One Skillet Cheesy Yellow Squash Casserole

Standard

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium yellow summer squash, sliced in 1 inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning or salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar
½ cup sour cream
½ cup of good salsa
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed medium to fine

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Saute the squash, onion, celery and dry seasoning ingredients until soft.  When done, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, 1 cup of the cheddar, sour cream and salsa. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
Mix cracker crumbs and the remaining ½ cup of cheddar together and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.11081142158776871108114425877666

Venison Meatloaf

Standard

mealloaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ lbs. of ground venison
  • 8 slices of bacon, ground or chopped very fine
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 1 11.5-ounce can of organic diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • dash of worcestershire sauce

TOPPING

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together and place in a greased loaf pan.
  • Shape to form loaf.
  • Mix ingredients for topping and spread over meatloaf.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake 20 more minutes or until done.

Tonight You Belong To Me (Cover)

Video

Something to make you smile. 🙂

Loving father Benjamin J. Ames singing with his 4 year old daughter, hot pink ukulele and all. “She thought she kept hearing fireworks and couldn’t sleep, so we sang to keep her mind preoccupied. In the end, nothing competes with fireworks.”

6 Year Old Charlotte Figi Inspired New Medical Marijuana Dubbed “Charlotte’s Web” To Help Treat Epilepsy, Seizures and Cancer

Video

Charlotte’s Web is special strain of marijuana developed by the Stanley brothers  (Joel, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Jared and Josh) for the purposes of bringing the extremely beneficial Cannabidiol or CBD, to patients who need the therapeutic benefits of the plant, without the psychoactivity accompanied by THC.  It does not induce the psychoactive “high” typically associated with recreational marijuana use.  A CBD rich Cannabis Oil is extracted from the harvested plants and concentrated through rotary evaporation.  To make it easier to perform clinical trials, they are planning to move the Charlotte’s Web part of their operation to Uruguay.  By doing so, they will also be able to import it to any U.S. state as hemp. (source Wikipedia)

Charlotte’s Web is named after Charlotte Figi, whose parents and physicians say she experienced a significant reduction of her epileptic seizures after her first dose of medical marijuana at five years of age, and whose usage of the strain was featured in the 2013 CNN documentary “Weed”.  Media coverage increased demand for Cannabis Oil and similar products high in CBD, which has been used to treat cancer and epilepsy in toddlers and children.  Families who say they have run out of pharmaceutical options have moved to Colorado in order to access the strain.  While the use of medical marijuana products is allowed in many U.S. states, the nationwide legal status of Cannabis Oil is less clear.

More and more we are opening our minds to the vastly superior benefits of natural healing verses profit based big pharmaceuticals.  A powerful report spanning 10 years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that painkillers are actually responsible for a four times as many deaths as both heroin and cocaine combined. Meanwhile the 11 largest drug companies acquired $711.4 billion in profits over the 10 years ending in 2012, according to an analysis of corporate filings by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).  The global pharmaceutical industry derived much of that profit from price-gouging the Medicare Part D prescription drug program for seniors and people with disabilities.

Americans pay significantly more than any other country for the exact same drugs.  In 2012 alone, the drug companies’ profits reached $83.9 billion, 62 percent higher than in 2013.

Middle Age Manifesto: The Winter of My Discontent

Standard

How many times in our lives do we think we deserve more than we were given?  We are settling for Joe, when Johan is out there waiting for us.  You see, Joe and Johan are not the same.

http://ispot.tv/a/7LJd

What happened to all the fun?  Youthful smoke mellowed days of partying with friends and letting the sun bake your skin to a deep golden bronze while blasting Zeppelin at ear-piercing decibels.  Reckless and carefree without the slightest thought of future skin cancer, potential liver damage or permanent hearing loss.  Living with no rules, no regard and no regrets.  Thinking only of yourself.21854_103015253054260_541415_n

And by the way, what happen to my fairy tale?  The one where I find the perfect Mr. Right, we make our fortune, live in a beautiful home and have the perfect life.  Where is my piece of the pie?  Are the times to Carpe Diem really over? Is this all I get?

I struggled with publishing this post, feeling apprehensive about showing this negative side of myself.  Then I realized feeling discontented with life is no new thing.  From the Bible to Shakespeare to Steinbeck to the Hollywood big screen, many have lamented over the cards they have been dealt.  In the movie The Family Man, Nicolas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a successful Wall Street Executive bachelor who gets to see what his life might have been like had he given up his perfect life and stayed with his old sweetheart.  Much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jack encounters an angel on Christmas Eve who offers him the opportunity to see life from another path.  After a shocking wake up call on Christmas morning in middle class suburbia, wearing Walmart sweat pants and surrounded by all the other mediocre trappings of normal family life, Jack flees back to the city only to discover his former perfect life is nonexistent.

Upon returning to his bland middle class life, he encounters his now wife Kate who rips into him for leaving his family on Christmas day, letting him know how frantic she has searched for him.   Jack replies “Look, you don’t understand.  I woke up this morning here.  And this is very strange because… this isn’t my house…   And those aren’t my kids…  I’m not Dad…  You’re not  my wife.”

Sometimes I look at my own life and think what happened to me?  As I am surrounded by the cracking plaster on the 80 year old walls of our country home.  The badly patched hole in the ceiling, the unfinished crown molding and the wood floor that still lacks a threshold.  The leftover casualties of the countless DIY projects my husband eagerly starts, but never seems to finish.  I look at the lines on my 50 year old face, the gray in my hair and I do not recognize my own reflection in the mirror.  Who is that person looking back at me?  I look at my daughters, now in their twenties, and think that’s who I am.  I should be out living it up! I’m not this older woman looking back at me.  Frazzled and twenty pounds overweight, trying to manage my household while working and caring for my own elderly parents.

As I am dealing with my parent’s multiple medical issues, doctor’s appointments, bills that need to be paid and trying to determine how to handle the next ball I’ve been given to juggle; I see my family go about their daily lives and I want to scream “I need to be taken care of!”  “I’m hanging on by a thread here!”  “Dear God, please give me another life!”

Then a somber reality hits me like a ton of bricks and just like George Bailey and Jack Campbell, I realize I would be nothing without them.  An empty shell.  A dried husk.  A tumbleweed blowing in the wind.  They are my roots.  My anchor in the storm and my nourishment after the rain.  They are my Zuzu’s petals.  My reality and my reason for being.  They are my destiny.

So I shamefully fall to my knees and ask forgiveness for being so selfish.  Then say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that I have.  I get up, wash my face, then wash the 8,968th load of laundry and smile as I ask “What are you hungry for tonight?”  Because the simple fact is I am blessed beyond measure and cherish the life I’ve been given.  When it’s all said and done, I still choose us and it is a wonderful life…

Home Remedy for Spider Bite

Standard

Most spider bites are harmless and require little or no treatment, except perhaps an antiseptic swab or anti-itch cream. However, there are four types of spiders commonly found in much of the United States whose bites can have more drastic effects and infections.  The four spider bites most individuals need to be especially wary of are those of the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider, and the yellow sac spider.

File:Brown-recluse-2-edit.jpg

Brown Recluse Spider – Wikipedia

The brown recluse spider is native to the United States and found mainly in the central Midwestern states southward to the Gulf of Mexico (see map).  It is also called the fiddleback spider due to the dark violin shaped marking appearing on the spider’s back.  

At our country home, we’ve had our share of insect bites and I’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider twice before.  Both times the bite grew to golf ball size, became infected and required a trip to my Dr. for wound debridement and a round of  antibiotics.  In both instances, I was left with an ugly dark-colored scar.

About a week ago, my 21-year-old daughter Caitlin showed signs of being bitten by a brown recluse spider.  The spider is not aggressive and will only bite if it feels threatened.  They like to hide in dark snug places and will crawl into clothing left on the floor, and occasionally will get into your bedding.

Brown Recluse Bite Symptoms

Brown recluse spider bites often go unnoticed initially because they are typically painless bites.  Symptoms usually develop two to eight hours after a bite.

Victims may experience these symptoms:

  • severe pain at bite site after about four hours,
  • severe itching
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • muscle pain

Initially the bite site is mildly red and upon close inspection may reveal fang marks. Most commonly, the bite site will become firm and heal with little scaring over the next few days or weeks.  Occasionally, the local reaction will be more severe with reddening and blistering, sometimes leading to a blue discoloration, and ultimately leading to a necrotic lesion and scarring. Signs that may be present include:

  • blistering (common),
  • necrosis (death) of skin and subcutaneous fat (less common)
  • severe destructive necrotic lesions with deep wide borders (rare)

Caitlin initially presented with reddening of the skin, severe pain at bite sight, severe itching and mild blistering.  After doing some research, I decided to create the following home remedy:

Aspirin
Vodka
Baking Soda
Gauze Pad
First Aid Tape (for sensitive skin use the paper type)

I melted 1 aspirin in 1 teaspoon vodka.  Then added enough baking soda to make a thick (toothpaste consistency) paste.  If the paste is too thick, add more vodka.  Gently apply a thick coating of the paste on and around the spider bite.  Cover the area with a gauze pad and tape in place with first aid tape.  I repeated this treatment morning and night for about three days.  Within the first 8 hours the pain and itch had greatly subsided.  By the third day, the bite had opened and the venom began to ooze out in a clear/bloody discharge.  (If at anytime the bite showed signs of infection, I would have promptly taken Caitlin to our Dr. for treatment.)  The bite was still somewhat red and you could feel a lump under the skin about the size of a large marble, but there was little to no pain.  Once the bite opened and drained, I stopped using the paste and started using triple antibiotic ointment.

Now, a little over a week later, the wound is completely healed and doesn’t show any signs of scarring.  I’m sure this remedy would work on most painful insect bites.

Disclaimer: You can use home remedies to treat spider bites, but if bitten by a poisonous spider, it is highly recommended that you also seek medical attention to treat the spider bite before your symptoms get worse.

Share the Love

Standard

“Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”
― Mother Teresa

Being a big old hippie at heart, I’m all about peace and love.  I have been so blessed on this new blogging journey and I sincerely want to send out a great big THANK YOU to all the wonderful and talented writers and artists I have had the opportunity and honor of getting to know, and ultimately calling my friends.  These amazing people have graciously chosen to follow and support my eclectic little blog by leaving encouraging comments and even nominating me for various awards.

In recognition and affection, rather than passing on an existing award, I’ve decided to create my own Share the Love Award.  I’m a nonconformist (shocker) and hate following rules; therefore, there are no rules to follow in accepting this award.  Feel free to pass it on if you want to.  I just wanted to say thank you and let you know how much I appreciate your talent, support and endless encouragement.

If anyone reading this post does not already follow these amazing people, please check them out and Share the Love!   I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Drum roll please… and the nominees are:

Cara at This Little Light and Awakening Foster Kelly

Dor at Virginia Views

George at The Fuzzy Photo and She Kept a Parrot

Pauline at Newfoundland Traveller

Michael at The Blissful Adventurer

Bente Haarstad at Bente Haarstad Photography

Jonell at The Coastal Crone

Stefan at Maxima

Kellie at Food to Glow

Mark at Tracks in the Dust

Thanks again for making my life a little more colorful, my friends!

Hill Country Sonata

Standard

Sunfire sparkling on the Pedernales River

Soaring a red-tailed hawk on the wing

Cedar and Cypress perfume dance on the water

Bull frog on the bank calling out to his love

Fireflies flicker in the wildflower valley

Cicada chorus singing their lullaby song

Whippoorwill lamenting a nightbird’s serenade

Hill Country Sonata playing my memory’s tune

Bending my heartstrings like a sweet lover’s touch

And calling me back to those hills that I love

More Texas Birds

Standard

Male Lesser Scaup – Lake Fork, Texas

Male Lesser Scaup – Lake Fork, Texas

White Pelican – Lake Fork, Texas

White Pelican – Lake Fork, Texas

Red Shouldered Hawk – Mansfield, Texas

Texas Birds of a Different Feather

Standard

My husband captured these shots this week.  The group of vultures were roosting on one of our old trees that fell victim to the recent years of drought here in Texas.  The male painted bunting stopped by our koi pond for a quick bath.  I wish the bunting photos were a little better, but we had to take them through the glass of our back window.

Salmon Croquettes with Sour Cream Dill Remoulade

Standard

For the last week my darling daughter Rachel has asked me to make her some “Smack Mackem” which is her silly term for Salmon Croquettes.  I’m not sure if this is a Southern dish or if people everywhere eat Salmon Croquettes, but I’ve eaten them my whole life.  When I was a kid we dipped them in ketchup, but now I like mine with a little Dill Remoulade.  Since mayonnaise is forbidden in my household, (Rachel hates it) I always substitute it with sour cream or greek yogurt.  Have you ever eaten Salmon Croquettes?  If not, here’s my version.  I hope you’ll try it sometime and let me know what you think.

Salmon Croquettes:

1 egg beaten

14.75 oz can Wild Alaska Pink Salmon crumbled and bones removed

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 TBS Sour Cream

1 TBS Melted Butter

1/2 cup Flour

1/2 cup Yellow Corn Meal

1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning or use Salt, Pepper and dash of Garlic Powder

Oil for Frying

Mix all ingredients and form into 4 equal sized patties.  Meanwhile in cast iron or heavy skillet add 1 inch of oil and heat on Medium setting.  Place patties into hot oil and cook about 4 minutes per side or until browned.  Place on parchment paper to drain.


Sour Cream Dill Remoulade:

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 1/2  tsp Dill Weed

Mix together and serve with Salmon Croquettes.

The Incredible Edible Egg and Putting the Chic in the Chicken Coop

Standard

When my family moved to our country home in 1995, we were eager to embrace all the wonderful opportunities that country living had to offer.  We mended the old fence and barn and soon added our share of farm animals to complete our little country haven.  Our animal menagerie included a flock of laying hens and a rooster to give us fresh eggs, but over the years our flock decreased and eventually our fresh egg production came to an end.

Recently, after purchasing a $4.00 carton of organic cage free eggs, I discovered all the eggs were disgustingly runny and obviously inedible.  Having this less than satisfactory experience with store-bought eggs, and being aware of the absolute horrors chickens have to endure in the commercial egg production industry, we decided to rebuild our chicken coop and start enjoying our own farm fresh eggs again.

My husband spent all weekend building the new coop and we went to our local feed supplier and bought 4 baby turkeys, 10 chicks and 1 rooster   Like our Rat Terrier, I too find watching the baby chicks completely spellbinding and I have begun to named them based on their personalities.

My favorite is the largest Black Spanish turkey that I have named Hey Zeus.  He is just a baby, but he’s already trying to strut his stuff.  I don’t think the girls are impressed, judging by the expressions on their faces.

Now for my contribution to the new chicken coop; the decor.  My husband is quite the handy man and we always have wood scraps leftover from past DIY projects.  I found these weathered wood scraps and thought they would work out great for making some homemade signs.

Next I gathered up my acrylic paint, paint brushes and paint sponges.  Then I painted the wood a solid color and outlined the edge with a contrasting color, creating a framed effect.

Then I purchased two different stencils.  One was a cursive type and one was block type letters

Using a sharp pencil, I traced out the word Farm Fresh on the wood using the cursive letters and the word EGGS using the block letters.

Then I highlighted the word Farm Fresh in a bright yellow and painted white eggs around the word EGGS.

Next I carefully painted in the words. You will need a steady hand and a very small detail paint brush.

And here’s the finished product.  Add some eye hooks and a chain to hang it and throw on a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to weatherproof and it’s ready for the coop.  Now to decide what to put on the other two signs.

The coop will only be used to protect the babies while they are growing.  As soon as they are big enough, the door to the coop will be left open and they will have free access to the yard and pasture, as nature intended.  If you would like to help support current legislative efforts in banning the barbaric and cruel practice of battery caged chickens in the US egg industry; please visit the Humane Society of the United States website by clicking on this link:  Help Improve the Lives of Laying Hens

The following information was taken from the Penn State Live website.  You can click on the heading below to see the full article.

Research shows eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious

The study compared the eggs of the pastured hens to those of hens fed a commercial diet.

“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. “Vitamin A concentration was 38 percent higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the commercial hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ.”

 “Eggs of the hens that foraged grasses had 23 percent more vitamin E than eggs of hens that foraged clover. “Results suggest that grass pastures may enhance vitamin E in eggs of pastured hens more than clover,” she said.”

Waxahachie Courthouse

Image

I snapped this photo today of the Waxahachie Courthouse.  The two old cars invoked thoughts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, young outlaw lovers that went on a two-year crime spree (1932-1934) which ended in a bloody ambush lead by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.  The movie Bonnie and Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway was scripted by Waxahachie native Robert Benton, and filmed in this area 1967.  Many old-timers still tell stories of their encounters with the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.